Archive for May 24th, 2011
Guilt is when you feel bad because you know you’ve done something wrong. Having feelings of guilt can be bad for you, but they can also be good. It all depends on the kind of guilt you feel, and why you feel it.
The kind of guilt feeling that can be good for you is called constructive guilt. Constructive guilt makes you feel bad about something you did that really is wrong—by anyone’s standards. For example, if you cheat on a test, you should feel guilty. It’s wrong. That feeling of guilt can lead you to feel angry and disappointed in yourself, and that will help you not to do it again. This kind of guilt is not bad for you; it’s your conscience.
The kind of guilt that can be bad for you is called destructive guilt. It makes you feel bad about something you did—or even just thought about doing—that really isn’t wrong. This kind of guilt is bad because you worry so much about what’s wrong with you that you can’t enjoy what’s right with you.
Destructive guilt can also be the kind you use as payment. This means you did something wrong, and you feel rotten about it. But then you go out and do it again, and again. You figure you’re paying for your mistake by feeling guilty about it. But that’s all you do. You never go beyond that to improve your behavior.
One thing you can do is to look at those things you do that are right, not just the things you do that may be wrong. If you get uptight and feel bad about every little thing you do that you or others don’t approve of, pretty soon that’s all you’ll think about. You’ll constantly feel guilty for not being a better person. But if you put the accent on what’s right with you, you’ll cut down on the amount of guilt feelings you suffer.
Another thing you can do is to learn more about those situations that cause you to feel guilty. For example, if you feel rotten when you blow up at your parents, learn more about parent-teen relationships. Talk to a teacher or counselor at school, or to a clergy-person. You’ll probably realize that it’s natural for you to lose your “cool” with your parents once in a while, that there’s no reason for you to feel guilty when this happens occasionally. When you learn more about why you act the way you do, you’ll know whether or not you really do have something to feel guilty about.
Since guilt can be such a strong motivator, some people use it against us. Making someone feel guilty when they don’t deserve it is a way that some people make others do what they want them to. Maybe your friends have said something like, “You’ve got to get your dad’s car so we can make the party. Otherwise, none of us can go.” That’s a way to make you feel guilt about “not being a good friend,” when, in fact, you’re just obeying the rules. It’s not a good way to act, and it’s not a good way to feel.
Guilt can be good and guilt can be bad. If you’re feeling guilty, think about why. Were your actions wrong? If so, how can you make up for it or change so as not to do it again? Or are you feeling guilty for no good reason? Is someone making you feel guilty and you don’t think you deserve it? Then talk to someone you trust about it. You can keep from getting down on yourself when you do make mistakes by remembering that you do a lot of things right, too.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )